What to watch today: Stocks are set to open higher as stimulus talks resume, again

Dow futures pointed to another gain at Friday's open as investors sought clarity around whether another round of coronavirus economic relief was still possible before next month's election. The Dow closed Thursday up 122 points or 0.4%, reaching its highest level in a month on stimulus hopes. The S&P 500 rose 0.8%. The Nasdaq increased 0.5%. (CNBC)

Ahead of Friday trading, all three benchmarks were tracking for strong weekly gains. The Dow and S&P 500 were each about 3.8% away from their record highs on Feb. 12 and Sept. 2, respectively. The Nasdaq was about 5.3% away from its record Sept. 2 close. (CNBC)

* Here's what some of the top investors including Carl Icahn are doing now (CNBC Pro)

The on-again, off-again Covid-19 stimulus negotiations are back. Rep. Nancy Pelosi's office said the House speaker and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin spoke for 40 minutes Thursday. In a tweet after the market closed, Pelosi's deputy chief of staff also said Mnuchin made clear President Donald Trump's "interest in reaching such an agreement." (CNBC)

The number of mortgages in active pandemic-related bailouts plunged in the past week as the first wave of forbearance plans hit the end of their six-month term. It was the largest decline since the coronavirus crisis began. Over the past week, active forbearances dropped by 649,000, or 18%. (CNBC)

IN THE NEWS TODAY

Trump said in an interview late Thursday he may return to the campaign trail with a rally on Saturday after the White House physician said the president completed his course of Covid therapy and could resume public events. The president told Fox News host Sean Hannity that he was likely to take a coronavirus test Friday after announcing a week ago that he tested positive. (Reuters)

The fate of the final presidential debates remained uncertain after Trump rejected the idea of switching next Thursday's debate to virtual because of Trump's infection. The president agreed to an in-person Oct. 22 debate with Democratic nominee Joe Biden. Trump also requested that the third debate be held Oct. 29, just days before the Nov. 3 election. Biden rejected squaring off that late in the campaign. (AP)

* Biden and Democrats scored big fundraising hauls on vice presidential debate day (CNBC)

Gilead Sciences said late Thursday that final data showed its antiviral drug remdesivir cut coronavirus recovery time by five days compared with patients who got a placebo. That's one day faster than indicated in preliminary data. Remdesivir was among the Covid-19 treatments that Trump received. The FDA granted remdesivir emergency use authorization in May. Gilead shares rose 2% in Friday's premarket. (Reuters)

* Gilead CEO: 'We have ample supply' of remdesivir for hospitalized coronavirus patients (CNBC)

GenMark Diagnostics said Thursday the agency granted emergency use authorization for its rapid molecular test that can tell the difference between more than 20 viruses and bacteria, including the coronavirus. As flu season begins, distinguishing between influenza and Covid-19 becomes extremely important. GenMark shares jumped 14% in Friday's premarket. (CNBC)

Federal authorities charged six men for allegedly plotting to kidnap Democratic Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer from her vacation home before November's presidential election. Whitmer, earlier this year, drew the ire of the president and other conservatives as well as members of militia groups for her strict pandemic stay-at-home orders. (CNBC)

Forecasts see Hurricane Delta on course to hit the U.S. Gulf Coast on Friday evening, around the same southwestern part of Louisiana that was ravaged when Hurricane Laura blasted ashore just six weeks ago. The question was whether Delta would remain at devastating Category 3 strength, with top winds of 129 mph, or drop just before landfall to a still dangerous Category 2 storm with winds 96 to 110 mph. (AP)

The United Nations World Food Program on Friday won the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize for its efforts to combat hunger. The world's largest humanitarian organization was awarded the prize for its "contribution to bettering conditions for peace in conflict-affected areas and for acting as a driving force in efforts to prevent the use of hunger as a weapon of war and conflict." (CNBC)

STOCKS TO WATCH

Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) is in advanced talks to buy specialty chipmaker Xilinx (XLNX), according to The Wall Street Journal. People familiar with the matter said such a deal could be worth more than $30 billion, with a transaction possibly coming together as early as next week. Shares of Xilinx jumped 18% in Friday's premarket. AMD shares lost ground.

Apple (AAPL) will extend some free one-year trial subscriptions to its Apple TV+ service through February. It had issued those free trials with the purchase of Apple products when it launched the service a year ago.

Walt Disney (DIS) will release the Pixar movie "Soul" directly to its Disney+ TV service on Christmas Day, deciding to forego both movie theaters and the previously planned November 20th release date.

AT&T (T) is planning thousands of job cuts in its WarnerMedia unit as it seeks to cut costs by up to 20%, according to The Wall Street Journal. WarnerMedia would not confirm those numbers, but the operator of HBO, TBS and other TV channels did say it was implementing a restructuring in response to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

HCA Healthcare (HCA) will return about $6 billion in government aid it had received as part of coronavirus relief funding. The hospital operator said the initial emergency had passed and that available cash from operations would be sufficient to repay the money. HCA also issued better-than-expected third-quarter revenue guidance.

Goldman Sachs resumed coverage of General Electric (GE) with a "buy" rating and a 12-month price target of $10 per share. Goldman said CEO Larry Culp has moved to make GE a "leaner, structurally more productive" company during his two years on the job.

Exelon (EXC) was noted as a "favorite idea" by Corvex Management's Keith Meister, who said the utility company is cheap and well-positioned and that the stock could rise by 30%. Meister said he had added Exelon to his portfolio during the second quarter.

Tiger Global Management reports a 12% passive stake in solar installation company Sunrun (RUN) as of Oct. 8, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing. The news comes a day after Sunrun completed its acquisition of rival installer Vivint Solar.

Stocks of cannabis producers, Aurora Cannabis (ACB), Tilray (TLRY) and Hexo Corp. (HEXO), are rising once again, after vice presidential nominee Sen. Kamala Harris vowed during Wednesday night's debate with Vice President Mike Pence that a Joe Biden administration would decriminalize marijuana at the federal level.

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